Many potential repercussions and negative effects may have arisen as a result of the US-China competition regionally and globally, and this conflict between them has spread to the Middle East in one way or another, especially after the signing of Israeli peace agreements with a number of Gulf countries (UAE and Bahrain), under the aegis of the United States, which made China fear an increase in American influence in the Middle -East, especially in the Arabian Gulf and the Emirates, due to the strong Israeli presence in the region. As a result, the Egyptian researcher analyzed a number of negative indicators of the trajectory of US-Chinese competition, and analyzed the extent of its future repercussions on the Middle East region, afterwards:
A disruption of oil exports from the Gulf, based on the desire to continue to ensure the flow of energy as one of the tools for maintaining world order.
China’s development and operation of fifth generation networks in the countries of the region, and this is linked to the “technological cold war which is likely to intensify in the region, and the risks it can make. weigh on security cooperation between Washington and the countries of the region “.
The expansion of the perimeter of strategic ports from which Chinese companies benefit, as part of the “Belt and Road projects”. The United States is concerned that these civilian ports could turn into military bases in times of conflict.
In addition, there is American concern about the inability to ensure the smooth flow of U.S. commerce with countries in the region and the world in general, which can confuse the U.S. economy, especially in any confrontation with it. China.
In contrast, China’s goals in the region appear clearer and less complex. China’s concern centers on (maintaining the safety of shipping lanes, continuing the flow of oil, and securing China’s extensive trade and investment interests with countries in the region).
The Biden administration has shown itself determined to maintain its role as (guarantor of the safety umbrella), despite the difference in its tools to do so compared to the previous administration. This reality reinforces the Chinese will to stay away from the conflicts in the region, perceived in China as complex and distant.
China’s approach to Belt and Road projects in the Middle East is unique and differs from the rest of the world, as it is characterized by a high degree of calm and aloofness from propaganda, desire-related behavior. of China not to send messages that it seeks to challenge the United States in the region. As long as the regional role of the United States continues, China will continue to benefit from it for the foreseeable future, and will stay away from further engaging in Middle East issues.
The Middle East can be seen as the only vital region in the world where China’s interests meet those of the United States, including freedom of navigation, the Iran nuclear deal, and the quest to end “permanent wars”. The reason for this is not only China’s desire not to carry its burdens with the United States, but also the decline of American interests in the region in recent years.
Nevertheless, the technological rivalry between the two parties remains a hot spot. Indicators so far suggest that the international arena, and at the heart of which is the Middle East, will witness the formation of a (bipolar technological world). Countries in the region are realizing that this new reality will produce great pressures on them in the future, as has happened with Israel regarding “5G” (fifth generation networks) in 2019 so far.
But, countries in the region, especially in the Gulf region, face a dilemma that (the United States has no alternatives to strategic technologies, such as fifth generation networks and intelligence (which include an essential element in their long-term development plans), such as “Vision 2030” in Saudi Arabia and Economic Vision 2030 in the United Arab Emirates. In contrast, China and Russia have no diplomatic or military alternatives through which they could (displace the United States as guarantor of the regional security equation).
Economically, most of the countries in the region are going through profound economic transformations, including structural changes, such as: (shift from dependence on oil to digitalization, and modernization of tributaries of national economies). Here, we see that relations with China are central to these plans, as China has become the largest trading partner for many countries in the region since 2016, and economic growth rates in many countries in the region. Arab Gulf and Middle East depend on their relations with China.
Here we see that although the United States has not yet presented an alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative, perhaps Washington, through its pressure, could target certain projects related to the initiative in the region.
Just as China tries to balance its relations with its opponents in the Middle East, the countries of the Middle East will, in the near future, have to try to “balance its relations with the great powers of the world”, especially in the light of the Sino-Russian alliance in the region and in the world.
This vision began to take shape quickly, as Russian Foreign Minister (Sergey Lavrov) toured the Gulf in March 2021, which included (United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar). Also, Qatar and Kuwait received the Chinese official (Yang Jiechi) a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in February 2021, during which he met the leaders of the two countries.
China’s attempts in the Middle East are aimed at diversifying relations, easing pressure from Washington on its Gulf partners, and showing that it has broad options, but without sending signals that affect the (foundations of the relationship with the United States itself).
However, there are some (the countries of the region fear and hesitate to expand security relations with China in particular). These reservations are linked (to the lack of confidence in China, which insists on looking at the GCC countries and Iran on an equal footing).
In addition, major countries in the Middle East region fear that (China’s lack of security capabilities necessary to engage in the region’s politics and China’s limited security capabilities, and perhaps reluctance and China’s unwillingness to play a major role in the Middle East).
It can be concluded here that (the Gulf countries in particular do not want to replace the United States with another power, but they see the expansion of China’s economic and investment role in the region as an element of pressure on the US administration to reinforce its commitment to regional issues and support its policies).